Where the last nine months have left Cooney, of course, is a question that not even he can answer yet. He had puttered around Gleason's for a few weeks, and had caught a bad cold, which was not helped by heavy rains the first few days in Palm Springs. But he has since been beating up on his sparring partners—he dropped seven out of seven the first three days—like the ferocious gym fighter of old. Valle is withholding judgment: "He was too long away from boxing. What he has done to himself remains to be seen."
But at least Cooney is talking more rationally about the Holmes fight. "I got so much experience out of that," he says. "If you go through the rest of your life chasing the past, you'll never get anywhere. Hey, I took some time off to think. It's one of the things I learned. It was hard."
Most important, he is back because he wants to be, and on his own terms. "I feel I got new blood," Cooney says. "I'm excited about coming back. I feel good about this again. I feel hungry again. I want to win the title. I lost only one fight. I don't want to lose no more."